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Master of Science (MS)

The Masters of Science (MS) is a research degree that requires the successful completion of a research problem and written thesis. This program is designed for students who plan to obtain a PhD after the MS degree or for students who want to concentrate within a horticultural science discipline while learning research techniques.

Advanced study opportunities are available in horticultural crop production and management; plant breeding, genetics, genomics and molecular engineering; plant and postharvest physiology, community food systems and agroecology; and landscapes, gardens, and urban horticulture (see Horticultural Science Research Areas for specific programs).

General requirements for the MS degree have been established by the NCSU Graduate School and the Horticultural Science Department has additional requirements. All MS degree students are required to have an advisory committee with a minimum of three committee members. Students are not required to have a minor degree.

To be admitted to the MS program, you must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and meet most of the eligibility requirements.

The following links are vital information to the Master of Science program.


Background courses

  • Horticultural Science or Landscape Horticulture courses (in your area of interest)
  • Background courses: advanced math (preferably calculus and statistics), general and organic chemistry, and physics
  • Biology courses: plant biology, botany, plant physiology, plant pathology, entomology, soils, genetics, and biochemistry

Basic requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 or better
  • For non-native English speakers, minimum TOEFL scores of 80 or better
  • A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate coursework during the degree program.
  • All degree requirements must be completed within six (6) calendar years, beginning with the date the student takes courses carrying graduate credit applicable to their degree program. Students must be continuously enrolled for the duration of their program.


  • A minimum of 30 credits
  • Up to 6 of the 30 credits may be research credits (HS 695), but there is no requirement to enroll for research credit
  • At least 20 semester hours must be 500, 600 or 700 level courses, and 6 of these credits must be at the 700 level. In addition, at least 18 credit hours must be from graded courses
  • Students are encouraged, but not required to take the Horticultural Science core courses
  • HS 601 Professional Presentation Skills
  • Two graduate-level statistics course MS students, with the statistics class(es) to be determined by student, advisor and committee. Examples of acceptable classes include ST511, ST512, ST531 and CS755.
  • Students pursuing the MS degree may choose a minor, but this is not required
  • A final seminar of the thesis research presented to the department, followed by an oral examination with the advisory committee.
  • No more than 6 hours of 400-level courses may be counted toward the minimal 30-hour requirement, and they may not come from Horticultural Science
  • All requirements for the Master’s degree must be completed within 6 calendar years from the date the student begins courses for graduate credit, including any approved leave of absence.
  • Both the MHS and MS degree students are allowed, even encouraged, to take courses from departments other than Horticultural Science. Horticulture is one area of a broad range of interconnected fields and departments, including crop and soil science, plant biology, entomology and plant pathology, statistics, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, food science, and agricultural education.

Additional Requirements


The Master of Science per semester graduate tuition and fee rates for North Carolina residents, starting Fall, 2023 is $5,850.13 for 9+ credit hours of coursework. Online courses and the MHS-DE degree option may be subject to different rates. Visit NC State’s Tuition and Fees page for detailed information about graduate tuition and fees.

Financial aid eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office. We encourage you to contact your financial aid counselor in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Criteria for funding is based on academic merit, demonstrated financial need, and enrollment in multiple courses per semester. For additional information, please visit NC State’s Student Services Center website, or call (919) 515-2421. NC State also offers a monthly payment plan.

Students pursuing this degree may be eligible for teaching assistantship funding. Master of Science students on Graduate Assistantships provided through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) will receive a stipend, tuition, and health insurance for four semesters (two years). University fees are not covered by the GSSP, but some faculty advisors may have external funding to cover these costs

Director of Graduate Programs

Dr. Gina Fernandez
Professor and Director of Graduate Programs
John D. and Nell R. Leazar Distinguished Professor
Department of Horticultural Science
260 Kilgore Hall, Campus Box 7609
Raleigh, NC  27695-7609

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